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"I am feeling great, I'm full gas for it. We're going there with a really strong team and we'll have a lot of options in the race."

Photo: Sirotti




18.03.2016 @ 23:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ben Swift is heading to Milan-San Remo 'all guns blazing' and believes Team Sky have plenty of cards to play as they try and claim their first Monument success.


Swift achieved the team's best-ever result at La Primavera when he sprinted to third place in 2014, and hopes hee can better that on Saturday as he forms part of a formidable Team Sky line up.


Fresh from helping Geraint Thomas to victory at Paris-Nice, chatted to Swift about this weekend's race, that fantastic ride in 2014, and his early-season form:



"I am feeling great, I'm full gas for it. We're going there with a really strong team and we'll have a lot of options in the race," he said.



"It's got all the characteristics that suit me really. A couple of hard climbs at the end mean it generally ends in a reduced-bunch sprint. I know they took the Le Manie climb out last year, but it's still a hard race. With the team we're taking we should ride a really good race however it unfolds.



"I have a lot of good memories [from 2014], although I also remember it was bitterly cold that day (laughs). There's been bad weather both times I've ridden it [in 2014 and 2015], so hopefully it'll be nicer this time around. We're due a good one weather-wise because it's been pretty atrocious for the last few years.


"2014 was one of my biggest results. Last year went OK, but not as well as I wanted it to. I was there in the sprint at the end, but got boxed in and ended up 13th. That's one-day racing, you make one little mistake or something doesn't quite go right near the finish, and you've got no chance of redemption until the following year. I'm going there all guns blazing this time around.



"I've had some of my best results in conditions like that. Maybe it's because I'm from the north of England where we don't get too many nice days! It's also to do with mentality. You're only going to get cold for a certain amount of time and then you can have a nice long shower.



"It's a strange race really. It's long, but it's still relatively easy, if that makes sense. It's quite flat, and because it's so long, it can shut down for quite a long time.


"The race very much splits into three sections too. You've got the start and then the section along the coast. If the wind's blowing people get a bit nervous there, and then you've got the final section when you start to hit the hills - the Cipressa and Poggio.


"Because of that I think you have to split your race up - especially if you're the team leader. In that case, all you can think about is the final. You have to look after yourself as much as possible. You're sat on the bike for 200km waiting - and then the race starts in the last 100km. When I say parts of the race can be easy, I certainly don't mean that final third, that is always really hard.


Swift has been very close to two stage wins this year, finishing second at the Ruta del Sol and at Paris-Nice last week.


"I had a really consistent winter, got over my shoulder injury and didn't get ill, which really helped. I changed my training around a bit and did a lot of early-season base work, waiting until later in the year to start my higher intensity work," he said.


"I've did a lot of fair weather riding in South Africa and Australia over the winter and it seems to be working well at the moment. I've felt better in every race I've done, and if I can keep this trend going I'll be really happy. I'm going to have a little break after the Vuelta al Pais Vasco [4-9 April] so hopefully I can hold my form until then.




"The group we had in Australia made a big difference. We all know each other so well and can drive each other on in training. Not to the extent that we hurt each other, but we know how to push one another. I can see people thinking we were on a bit of a jolly, but the actual workload we were putting in… we weren't on holiday by any stretch of the imagination. We'd maybe get five minutes to watch the sun go down after dinner (laughs).


"We worked really hard and the environment was great. I think you can see everybody that was there has had a good start to the season too: G is absolutely flying, and Stannard, Luke [Rowe] and Pete [Kennaugh] have also gone well.



"It's so encouraging. We all thrive off each other, and we've also ridden a lot of the same races this year. We gel together so well - we don't even have to speak much in the races. Sergio Henao has been with us a lot too and he's fitting in and coming on brilliantly."


The Tour de Yorkshire is a big target for Swift.


"I'd like to go there and have a different race to the one I experienced last year [he crashed and was forced to abandon on the opening stage]. As for my preparation, well, we'll see. I'm taking a break right before it so hopefully I'll be able to maintain my form. The race goes really close to where I grew up this year and it's a really great event. It was so good to see how successful it was last year and I'll be there to give it my best shot."



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